Supporting children in early years to be 'life's work' for Kate

New project aims to improve society’s understanding of importance of early childhood in shaping adulthood

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As the Princess of Wales prepares to launch her early years campaign on Tuesday, she said “it is more important than ever” to support the development of young children.

The long-term Shaping Us campaign aims to improve society’s understanding of the importance of early childhood in shaping adulthood and society as a whole.

The project, launched by the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, is said to be Kate’s “life’s work”, which she hopes will influence attitudes towards children in the early years of their lives.

At an event staged on the eve of the project’s launch, Kate spoke about the “critical importance” of the first five years of a child’s life and its influence on their future.

The Princess of Wales was joined by husband Prince William and a host of celebrity supporters at the evening event staged at Bafta’s London headquarters.

“The campaign is fundamentally about shining a spotlight on the critical importance of early childhood and how it shapes the adults we become,” she said.

“During this time we lay the foundations and building blocks for life. And it is when we learn to understand ourselves, understand others and understand the world in which we live.

Kate, Princess of Wales, tours maternity unit in UK - in pictures

“This is why it is essential, to not only understand the unique importance of our earliest years, but to know what we can all do to help raise future generations of happy, healthy adults.

“And of course, by understanding our own childhoods — what has shaped our own beliefs, relationships, behaviours and feelings — we, as adults, are better placed to play our part in positively shaping future generations."

A 90-second claymation film has also been released, depicting how the development of a young girl from the age of zero to five is shaped by interactions and her environment. It will be shown in cinemas from Friday.

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The campaign has the support of a number of notable faces, including rapper Prof Green, Fearne Cotton, Giovanni Fletcher, Zara McDermott and Leah Williamson.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said the importance of early years development will be “key focus” for Kate for the “rest of her life”.

“We’ve been raising awareness of the extraordinary impact of the early years and highlighting the need to increase societal understanding of the transformative impact of early childhood," said Amanda Berry, who leads the Royal Foundation.

Prince William and wife Kate make first visit to Wales since receiving their new titles - video

Prince William and wife Kate make first visit to Wales since receiving their new titles

Prince William and wife Kate make first visit to Wales since receiving their new titles

“Our first public perception survey in 2022 found that less than one in five people understood the unique importance of the first five years of our lives, and within that the figures for young people and men were even lower.

“As part of this campaign, we are publishing more in-depth research, which shows that around one in three, 36 per cent of adults report knowing just a little or nothing about how children develop in their early childhood.

“So, in response, we will be aiming to increase in those awareness figures significantly.”

Eamon McCrory, professor of developmental neuroscience and psychopathology at University College London, said: “By ensuring children and parents are supported during this critical period we, as individuals and a society, can positively influence the lives of the next generation for decades to come.”

Updated: January 30, 2023, 11:46 PM